Many who struggle with addiction die or go to prison. Yet, sometimes miracles occur. These are the stories of those miracles
In this episode, Louis talks about recovering from addiction.
My name is Louis. I’m 26 years old,. And I’ve been sober for two years. Well, as far as how bad addiction was for me, for me personally, I mean, everybody has their own experience as far as how bad it can get, but it felt as bad as it can get, as the worst possible situation you can imagine. Well, as far as me dying to addiction, when I was in active addiction, I almost wore it like some weird badge of honor. Like, “I can handle it better than other people could.” I knew I was an addict. I didn’t understand the medical definition of that or any other kind of definition for that, but I knew I couldn’t live without using substances. As far as me thinking if I was going to die or not, I honestly didn’t care.
It was one of those things where like, “If this is my last time using, then that’s that.” I wasn’t really scared of death. I definitely didn’t want to die either, if that makes sense. I would like to continue using drugs. I loved using drugs, but if it was my last time, I was okay with that, too. Well, as far as me thinking I can get out of addiction, I figured I could master it, figure out the formula of correct dosing, finding a job where it would allow me to use drugs without it hindering my ability to make money. I mean, with me, I know for some people they lose jobs, I was able to maintain jobs somehow. So I was deep in this delusion of, “I can keep this going for a very long time.”
So when I decided to get sober, I literally, for whatever reason, I abandoned this, for a moment, I abandoned this old way of thinking that I could figure this out. I could get out of this situation. When I was entering treatment, I’m a people watcher, right? I observe my surroundings and I see what the successful people are doing and what the people who aren’t going to make it. You can gauge that when you enter a room. For example, when someone was leaving treatment, the treatment center that I was in, the people that would work… When someone was being discharged, right? They finished their 30 days or whatever the amount of time was. I would notice that the people that worked at the treatment center, they would ask them, “Hey, are you going into sober living? Do you have a sponsor or spiritual advisor?” or whatever whatever it is for that person. “Are you going to be getting some help once you leave here?”
I would, however they answered that question, and this is me like first week of treatment and I’m watching them ask those questions, and I would notice the difference between someone who said, “Yeah, I’m going to be getting some help when I leave here. I’m going to get a sponsor and I’m going to sober living.” I would look at the reaction of that person working at the treatment center, and it was always elation. They were proud of them or whatever it was. And then on the other side, the flip side of that, I would see people be like, “Nah, I think I’ll be fine,” and I would see a look of disappointment or a deep sense of sadness or of this unfortunate situation. You can see it on their face. I was like, “Okay, let me figure out what they’re…”
Because I didn’t even know what they were talking about, what a sponsor is. This was all a completely different language for me. So when we were going to small group, this language just kept coming about. I’m like, “What is this? What is the sponsor? What is this fellowship?” I was like, “Okay, I know what the successful people or what I perceive to be the successful people were doing.” So I’m like, “Let me get to that.” That completely shattered my old way of thinking. Normally I’m like, “I know what I need to do.” For whatever reason, I don’t know what it is, I mean, today I call it a higher power revealing a situation to me, but at the time I just don’t know why I was naturally, not naturally, I was gravitating towards something that wasn’t in my nature. It was this most bizarre thing. I just can’t describe it. That’s why today, I just describe it as a higher power or God revealing some situation that I had to take advantage of in that moment.
So when I decided to follow this protocol that I uncovered, I was honestly intrigued. It was really bizarre to me. My perception of 12 Steps was what I saw in movies and TV, old dudes sitting in a circle talking about their feelings and smoking cigarettes, coffee, donuts, whatever. But I was like, “All right, let’s see what this is about.” Right? And so I just did that. That’s the most bizarre part about this thing. I don’t blindly try to follow this set of rules or this protocol that I’ve viewed. I’m very analytical in that sense. I’m this weird people watcher. I try to measure the room and see what people are doing, and so when I decided to follow this way of life or this protocol, that’s what I called it back then, or that’s how I thought about it, I just went and did it, right?
So first, they used to bring meetings into that treatment center. First guy that was in there, it’s actually two men, they both ended up becoming my sponsors in different phases of my recovery. The guy that I chose that night, his name is Anthony. He had a New York Yankees hat on, and I’m like, “I’m from New York. That guy’s going to be my sponsor.” It was as simple as that. A common thing that, now in hindsight, I know a lot of people, they like to sponsor shop and figure things out. It was very simple for me. I’m like, “That guy seems cool. He’s from New York. I’ll take this guy for a spin.” I went up to him. I said, “Hey, man, I need a sponsor.” He gave me his phone number. He told me, “Call me,” and so I did that. Then I started the steps and some of this too, was to get a therapist off my back where they’re like, “Hey, did you get the sponsor? Are you doing the steps?” And I can like, “Yes, yes, yes.” Check all those boxes off.
But like I said, I was just testing it out. I just wanted to see what this was all about. It was more coming from a place of just me just being inquisitive about it, just trying to figure out what this is all about. I didn’t, in any way, think it was going to actually work at all. I mean, taking the suggestions from my sponsor, it took a lot of pressure off me. That’s what it felt like at first, because I had a person where they were essentially, in early recovery especially, they’re essentially making most of my decisions for me. They’re telling me to go to this meeting at this time. Call them every day. Like I said earlier, this is out of my nature to actually follow through with any of this. I’m a great starter, terrible finisher. I never finish anything I start. But I just did it.
When I started realizing that it was working, was that over time, I just didn’t think about using, which was a really weird concept. I went from a lifestyle of waking up with a quarter of a bottle of alcohol left. I’m like, “Cool. This will be my morning drink.” I got to go to the grocery store at 9:00 AM. Who does that? And re-up. But now I’m in a sober living and I wake up and I’m doing my chores and whatever I’m doing, my routine is changing and over time, it just became habit. That’s honestly what this is. It’s habit forming. It’s a habit forming way of life. I mean, life for me today, my problems are completely different today.
Some would describe them as first world problems. I can virtually do what I want. I have money in savings. I can take off work and not worry about covering certain things, as far as bills or financial commitments. I can call my parents five minutes before I get off work. Like, “Hey, can I come over?” And they’re like, “Yeah, sure. Come over for dinner.” Sure, I have a regimented schedule of going to work. I have a side project at home, but on the free time I can virtually do whatever I want. I have a car. If I want to be spontaneous and decide to take my weekend wherever the wind blows, I can just do it. I just didn’t live a life like that before.
Before my life was run… I had a special amount of money allocated for drugs and alcohol and then I had to around that, and now I can do whatever I want and I can work around all of my other life responsibilities that used to seem like chores. Going to work used to be a chore, like, “Okay, I have to make sure I’m not too loaded,” or, “How do I get through this day? I’m so fucked up right now. How am I going to get through work today?” These things aren’t issues today. It’s weird. It’s kind of bizarre, honestly, now that I think about it. I would say the last time I seriously considered taking a drink, I was probably about six, seven months sober. I don’t know. I was planning a relapse. But here’s the thing. These habit forming things that I’m talking about, I just naturally picked up the phone and called someone to tell them about my great idea of taking off four days from work to make sure I have enough time to really enjoy this relapse, and whatever happens after happens.
I’m weird and methodical like that. I don’t know. I’m sure I’m capable of just going for it, but I want to enjoy it. That’s how I am. But like I said, as far as the habit forming things, things, I was told to me by someone, this gentleman named Jeff, who I did a IOP with, he challenged me to call at least three, it was a lot more than that, it was like 11 alcoholics a day. But today I do it about three. When I constantly talk to these people… And the main objective when I call these people is I try to see how their day is going. If they ask me about what’s going on with me, sure, I’ll answer it. But I’m trying to get outside of what is going on with me, but that’s an insurance policy.
Because if I build up this habit of constantly calling people, seeing how they’re doing, when I’m in a pretty bad situation, that phone is not as heavy anymore. I can pick up and call someone. It’s not a big deal. I get over that insecurity of annoying someone. Sometimes I talk too much. Sometimes I text too much. Sometimes I get butt hurt when I’m trying to talk to [Esal 00:11:05] or something, and then he doesn’t respond. I’m like, “This asshole.” But I know that he’ll be there if I’m really in trouble. Because most of the time, I’m just, I don’t know, I just like the sound of my voice. So I just want to get his attention or whatever, and I’m not really in a bad situation. But deep down, I know if I was in a fucked situation, he would drop whatever he was doing and he would help me. So it’s like, if you’ve ever thought about you wanted to stop or you’re considering getting sober, you have to do things that you’ve never done before, because if you’re anything like me, you’ve been living a life by doing what you wanted to do.
Sometimes I explain this to people that I talk to that like, “When you were out there getting loaded or just living in that self-will, I view it as this debt you’re running up. It’s this huge debt that you’re just… Think of it as a credit card that you’re racking up this debt of misery and pain and suffering. And so there comes a point like, and I hate to break it to you, you have to pay up. You have to do shit you don’t want to do. You have to do things that you’ve never done before. You have to put yourself in very uncomfortable situations. It’s not like you start off with a clean slate and then it’s all uphill from there. That’s not the case. I’m sorry if that’s what you thought it was, but you have to pay back, whether it’s financially. And also another thing is, some things you’ll never be able to pay back and you have to live with that.”
I don’t want to scare people off by saying that, but also I’m giving you this full disclaimer as far as what you need to do in order to not only get sober, but live a happy and healthy life in all facets of your life, whether it’s professionally, romantically with your family, friends. You can mend all those relationships. Some of them you might not be able to, but you can learn to live with it and not turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of escaping all of that.